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Manatees, Palm Bay chat new ballpark

Brevard County ManateesThis isn’t the first time the two sides have chatted, but it may stick this time: Brevard County Manatees (High Class A; Florida State League) officials are talking new ballpark with nearby Palm Bay reps while also pitching management of Space Coast Stadium.

The two sides talked new ballpark back in 2009, but nothing became of it. Now, with the Washington Nationals leaving Space Coast Stadium and Brevard County looking at spending $10 million on ballpark and Carl Barger Complex upgrades for the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) — currently housed at Osceola County Stadium, spring home of the Houston Astros — the Manatees may be forced to move. The offer from USSSA is pretty rich: the organization would pay $250,000 annually while guaranteeing 75,000 hotel-room nights in the first year of the lease, rising to 100,000.

But a new Palm Bay ballpark and a move is far from certain; in fact, the team is pitching a plan that would have the Manatees managing the facility instead of USSSA while also exploring the Palm Bay market. The team’s proposal from GM Kyle Smith, from Florida Today:

Sign a 10-year lease with up to five renewable five-year options at Space Coast Stadium, totaling an anticipated 35-year term.

Handle all maintenance, repair and capital improvements at the stadium and practice fields.

“Activate the complex” with tourism-driven events.

In exchange, the Manatees asked the county to earmark the fourth penny of the tourist tax to the team to pay for marketing, operations, maintenance and other costs. The club also asked the county to spend up to $1 million to replace third-party concessions equipment and up to $1 million for tourism-event renovations.

Having more than one option is always good, and a new Palm Bay area is in the earliest stages of discussions. But there’s already a proposed site: the northwest corner of Port Malabar Boulevard and U.S. Hwy 1, a 10-acre site once hosting a shopping plaza.

RELATED STORIES: Palm Bay mayor: Let’s look at privately financed ballpark; Palm Bay explores new ballpark

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